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NIA establishes new demography centers to enhance knowledge about older Americans

October 26, 2004

NIA Press Office | 301-496-1752 | nianews3@mail.nih.gov

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established four new Centers on the Demography of Aging at Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of North Carolina, and Pennsylvania State University. The new programs, which join nine ongoing Centers at institutions around the U.S., will focus on social and behavioral research on health, savings, retirement, and global aging. Today’s announcement reflects an expanded effort by the NIA to promote economic and demographic population research as the U.S. and world age rapidly.

“The Centers were developed as a research infrastructure to address the big questions in population aging in the U.S. and worldwide,” says Richard Suzman, Ph.D., Associate Director of the NIA for Behavioral and Social Research. “Population science applied to aging is increasingly interdisciplinary, and the Centers have become the crucibles for combining disciplines into cutting edge research fields such as biodemography, neuroeconomics and behavior genetics.”

The NIA was joined in funding four of the Centers by the NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). The NIH and its components are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Centers’ research embraces topics on the age structure of populations; changes in the levels of disease and disability; the economic costs of disability; cost effectiveness of interventions; migration and geographic concentration of older people; decision-making about retirement; pensions and savings; the relationship between health and economic status; and health disparities by gender and race.

The new and existing Centers will receive approximately $6 million in grant awards in their first year for a broad range of research and over $30 million for the four to five years for which they will be funded. Each of the 13 Centers has unique but inter-related themes. The four new centers, their principal investigators, and focus top the complete list of Centers, below:

  • Harvard School of Public Health, David E. Bloom, Ph.D. – Research will be conducted on demographic changes and aging throughout the world, with a particular focus on developing countries. The focus of this research will be on the measurement of the burden of disability and disease and on the causes and consequences of global aging. The center will have a particular emphasis on the effects of HIV/AIDS and will play an important role within the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health.
  • Princeton University, Christina H. Paxson, Ph.D. – The Princeton Center will examine the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health over the life-cycle, the measurement and determinants of decision-making and well-being among individuals as they age, the physiological pathways through which socioeconomic status affects health; and the determinants of differences in health and life expectancy across countries and within countries over time.
  • University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, David M. Blau, Ph.D. – UNC researchers will investigate the effects of population aging on a variety of topics including labor force participation and retirement security, and how nutrition-related improvements in developing countries could influence the development of chronic diseases.
  • Pennsylvania State University, Mark D. Hayward, Ph.D. – Penn State scientists will examine the interrelationships among, for example, SES, race/ethnicity, and health, trends in chronic disease and disability, biodemographic approaches to aging and health.
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, John Bound, Ph.D. – At Michigan, center-based research will study aspects of health, work, and retirement including the NIA-funded Health and Retirement Study, trends in chronic disease and disability, the impact of HIV/AIDs on the elderly and their families in low income countries, and the demography and economics of specific diseases.
  • University of Southern California (USC) – University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Eileen Crimmins, Ph.D. – Research at the USC-UCLA Center will incorporate a variety of disciplines, including epidemiology, clinical geriatrics, biostatistics, psychology, and biology, to develop models of the health status of populations and the expected life cycles of individuals (co-funded by OBSSR).
  • Stanford University, Alan M. Garber, Ph.D., M.D. – Stanford’s focus on individuals and the health care system will examine the effects of medical technology on health and well-being of older people; look at medical care, costs, and health and economic outcomes in the U.S. and in other countries, with particular emphasis on disparities in outcomes; and conduct comparative international studies analyzing the efficiencies of different health care systems.
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Robert M. Hauser, Ph.D. – Wisconsin will explore the links between social demography and biomedical and epidemiological research on health and aging, focusing on midlife development and aging, the economics of population aging; inequalities in health and aging; comparative international studies of population aging; and links between social-demographic and biomedical research in population aging.
  • RAND Corporation, Michael D. Hurd, Ph.D. – RAND will examine the relationships between the economic status and well-being of people approaching or at old age. The center will collaborate with researchers internationally, with a particular focus on Europe and large social surveys of older people being conducted by the Europeans. (co-funded by OBSSR).
  • University of California Berkeley, Ronald D. Lee, Ph.D. – The UC Berkeley Center will continue its focus on the biodemography of aging, as well as forecasting and analyzing demographic and fiscal characteristics of the aging population, developing behavioral and experimental economics, studying life cycle planning and intergenerational transfers, and monitoring and examining labor supply issues in an aging population. (co-funded by OBSSR).
  • University of Pennsylvania, Beth J. Soldo, Ph.D. – UPenn will look at biodemography and early life factors that affect health in both mid- and late life; examine the well-being of older individuals and old-age security programs both domestically and internationally; look at the flow of resources, such as time, money, and help, among generations in a family; and develop new and innovative methods for the collection and analysis of demographic data.
  • University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center, Linda J. Waite, Ph.D. – Part of the Chicago Center’s focus will be on social aspects of aging, examining social relationships, living arrangements, and family and bio-behavioral pathways important to aging. The center will also look at health care, studying ways that data from biomarkers can be effectively collected and integrated into population-based aging research. (co-funded by OBSSR).
  • National Bureau of Economic Research, David M. Wise, Ph.D. – The NBER’s focus on economics and health will examine their interrelationship in a variety of ways—financial circumstances of aging individuals; the relationship between retirement policies and labor market behavior; the inter-relationship between SES, health, and health disparities; and population aging around the world, in terms of the timing and magnitude of demographic change, institutional histories, economic and social context, behavioral traditions, and policy environments.

The NIA is one of 27 Institutes and Centers at the NIH. It leads the Federal Government effort conducting and supporting research on the biomedical and social and behavioral aspects of aging and the problems of older people. For more information on aging-related research and the NIA, please visit the NIA website at www.nia.nih.gov. The public may also call for publications describing these efforts and offering health information for older people and their families at 1-800-222-2225, the toll free number for the National Institute on Aging Information Center.

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